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Thanks for this Pete. In my comment on the earlier thread, I wondered whether the costs were worth the benefits of Don's vision. I wasn't clear about the context though: it's still not clear to me that doing that work *as graduate students* was a smart decision. Don's intellectual vision is still one I largely share, but I think it's one that has to be pursued after one is "out there," having become really comfortable with the discipline first.

Don had the luxury of being tenured in a department that so prized intellectual diversity, in the words of someone who shall remain nameless, you could really "go out on a limb and hang yourself." The vision Don had, though as Pete argues it was certainly in the tradition of Austrian economics, was one that seemed strange to many, with its invocation of contemporary Continental philosophies with strange names (as if "praxeology" was part of every day conversation - even the Typepad spell check doesn't recognize it). To invest energy in that project as graduate students may not have been the wisest choice, although we seem none the worse for wear.

All of that said, Don's larger vision remains very much a guiding light in my own work.

Dr. Horowitz: Your comment regarding one's (in)ability to be "intellectually diverse" is a great encapsulation of why I did NOT pursue graduate study in economics (of course only taking mathematics courses through to the level of introductory calculus helped too!)

Dr. Boettke: Am I anywhere near the mark by claiming that in its strongest forms, Verstehen entails reliving the experience of the actor or at least rethinking the actor's thoughts, while in its weaker forms, it only involves reconstructing the actor's rationale for acting?

This is what I receive from a close reading of Max Weber, L.V. Mises, E. Husserl, A. Shutz, F. Hayek, J. Habermas, W. Dilthey, C. Geertz, and even yourself. And yes, I understand (or am at least aware) that " life encompasses a vast array of complex structures and cultural dynamics, which successfully enable us to plan our actions... (Boettke, 1990: 41)" Hence, wouldn't the empirical work of a C. Geertz and Derrida get us closer to understanding these cultural dynamics than Gadamer?

There is a problem at the start of Don's book on the calculation debate (this is a 20 year old memory) where he addressed some of the ideas of Popper and Kuhn. He seemed to be very wide of the mark at that point and this placed a big question mark in my mind, as did his debate with (Steele?) in Critical Review. Some of my thoughts on these matters (not directly related to Don) can be found in a comment on the level playing fields.


Lachmann's argument was that the first task of praxeology was to render social phenomena intelligible in terms of purposive human action, and the second task was to trace out the unintended consequences of those human choices. I think that is what drove Lavoie as well.

As for Geertz --- one has to understand that Lavoie did not just fix on Gadamer, but instead had us reading Geertz ("The Natives Point of View"), Ricouer ("On Narrative"), Taylor, etc. Lavoie was just persuaded that Gadamer's Truth and Method laid out the philosophical issues at stake better than alternatives. I, on the other hand, while persuaded by Lavoie about Gadamer's relevance, learned more from reading synthesis works like Bernstein's two books --- Beyond Objectivism and Realtivism, and Restructuring Social and Political Theory.

So my Lavoie inspired turn led me to read sociologists like Peter Berger, and then also the economic sociologists like Swedberg, and to think about ethnography and political economy. I think Swedberg's Max Weber and the Idea of Economic Sociology combines the main insights for the questions I am interested in at this stage of my career.

So in the end, I learn more from social scientists than I do from pure philosophers --- so Geertz rather than Derrida.

But now for a twist on all of that, the social scientist who really excited me after I left Lavoie immediate influence was Jon Elster and his work on "A Plea for Mechanism" was very influential on me in terms of what we had to accomplish even as we made the interpretative turn. So it is that intellectual/philosophical discourse that is what I have been trying to engage in and encourage my students to engage (thus witness Leeson's emphasis on mechanisms in his work).

Someday I plan to write the book, Economics as a Philosophic Science, which will lay out the position clearly --- but in the meantime I am still trying to figure it all out through application and "testing" of it through application.


Rafe: Are/Were you stating that Lavoie (1985) was off the mark in paraphrasing Popper (1972) that the interpretation of facts are theory-laden; hence, they must be placed into a conceptual framework to be rendered meaningful? If so, Why?

Dr. Boettke: I too enjoy the work of Swedberg (sans his call for rational choice theory unifying theory and empirical research in sociology!). And I particularly enjoyed reading the work that you referenced. But what is most interesting about the Swedberg(s), Lavoie(s), Schumpeter(s), and yourself is that you all believe(d) that one should always strive to establish a symbiotic relationship between theory and empirical research, where each contributes to the development of the other.

So, according to Pete, Don Lavoie and Richard Ebeling--both of whose publications indeed show an excellent grasp of Mises's thought--have a better "understanding" of Mises than Rothbard or Hayek or even Guido Huelsmann, who is trained in philosophy and spent the last 5 or 6 years of his life writng a 1,000 page intellectual biography of Mises. Couldn't a case at least be made that the latter were equal or superior in their grasp of Mises's thought to Don or Richard? And what are Pete's criteria and evidence for making such a sweeping statement? Moreover what special competence or private source of knowledge does Pete himself possess in distinguishing between and ranking scholars on such a complex matter as their cognition of another scholar's mind and work? How much thought and study has Pete devoted to this issue? Without cogent and convincing answers to these questions, I am afraid Pete is once again engaging in ill-considered and unscholarly pontification a la his characterization of Austrian economics in the Doherty book.

As far as I know none of the guys you mention has had any formal philosophical training. The one outstanding contemporary philosopher who got it right on Mises is Barry Smith. Mises´s methodological self-awareness is confused. He refers to Husserl but also to Hilbert. There seems to be some "mathematics envy" in Mises. He says "We can develop praxeology as a purely deductive science like logic and mathematics" but he offers nothing of the sort. One could claim that for this reason alone Human Action is a failure. Now if you look at what he actually did, it is more like Husserl than Hilbert so yes Peter Boettke has a point.

Thanks Brian, as I wrote, it was a memory from scanning Don's book 20 years ago. Along with "Human Action" it was payment in lieu of cash for an essay in an early edition of "Critical Review" with articles on lit and culture theory. My problem with Don was not the theory-laden nature of facts, which is not controversial, but the consequences that are supposed to follow and it was my view at the time that Don had taken a seriously wrong turn. In fact I felt that so strongly that I put the book aside (to read "Human Action") and did not get to find out what he had to say about the calculation debate.

The piece in Critical Review introduced Bartley's ideas about rationality and the limits of criticism as a rejoinder to the deconstructionists.

Another piece on a related theme is more relevant to this discussion because it invokes the thoughts of Karl Buhler and Rene Wellek along with Popper's theory of objective knowledge as an alternative to the deconstructionist turn which overlaps with hermeneutics. It flags a theory of language devised by Buhler that places language in a biological and evolutionary context.

For more on Buhler and Wellek

This is a shorter version of the Critical Review article.

A few responses:

Ludwig --- I majored in economics and philosophy in undergraduate school and also studied philosophy (at least sat in some classes) in graduate school. But yes you are right that I am no philosopher, and you are right that Barry Smith is a very good philosopher.

Brian --- I hold the strict Misesian line that theories are never defeated by empirics, but instead that theories are proven to be applicable or inapplicable to given situations. We learn from engaging in that act of historical interpretation, but it does not prove theories to be right or wrong --- that is a matter of logic. So I apologize if in some writings I communicate the wrong message ... no doubt I am not as clear as I should be in some writings. Also I am mostly arguing what I consider to be a very poor interpretation of the great contributions of Ludwig von Mises that have been allowed to circulate.

Joe --- we really shouldn't be engaged in our own version of "fight club". As a scholar I am asked to make judgments, as are you. It is my considered judgment that you are challenging. You are entitled, though I am not sure you are justified in your characterization of my statements. You are the editor of the QJAE, I am the editor of the RAE, I have been teaching Mises and Austrian economics for close to 20 years at the PhD level, you have been studied Mises and the Austrian school for 30 years or more. I respect (though disagree) with your positions, you obviously neither respect nor agree with mine.

But you know all those journal articles and book chapters you complained about for being methodological, they were mostly about Mises and his position on methodology and method, including the essay on Mises for the Handbook of Economic Methodology (edited by John Davis, Wade Hands and Uskali Maki) and an even more recent essay "Was Mises Right?" published in the Review of Social Economy. These pieces were not self-published, they met the critical test of referees, etc. If they are so wildly off the mark, write up a comment straigthen me and the economics community out and increase the line on your CV. It is the way science progresses. BTW, I also just edited The Legacy of Ludwig von Mises, 2 volumes. But that is all just bean counting, but you did raise the issue and I just want to point out that while I may be wrong or right from your perspective it is not accurate for you to say that my opinion is unscholarly, though (like yours) it is a strongly held opinion. I am not offering just a mere opinion, but one based on close to 20 years of study of Mises and Misesian scholarship, and conversations with those who studied with Mises (of course mostly with Sennholz and Kirzner, but others as well including Lachmann and Rothbard and Bettina and Percy).

Do you deny what Mises wrote in Epistemological Problems, or in Theory and History? Or that Rothbard himself recognized the phenomenological aspects of Mises's thought, etc.? I mean you don't deny that he had paper in that Nathanson book do you? I know Murray said that the good parts of phenomenology were already in praxeology and that the modern phenomenological philosophers didn't have much to add, but still the historical point is clear.

On Huelsmann's biography of Mises, I am just reading it now (it arrived from Amazon 2 days ago). I have very high expectations for the work and look forward to reading it carefully. I think Huelsmann possessess a very good mind and he is seriously committed to the subject so I am excited to read it to see if he found anything new.

I will say this, however, I was disappointed that it was published by the Mises Institute and not a major university press --- Princeton, Harvard, Chicago, Michigan, Stanford, etc. I think this will ultimately limit the impact of the work unfairly. That is too bad. But I am hoping that the book is awesome and that it will have a huge impact on the profession of economists and intellectual historians. Robert Leonard's major work on Red Vienna (Cambridge) will be coming out and Mises is not as important a player in his story as I would like to see, so Huelsmann's book could be important if it accomplishes what I hope it does.

The motivation for writing what I wrote was that people were saying that Lavoie's agenda proved to be a dead-end and that it was some sort of deviation. I wanted to counter that --- Don was not a deviationist, but a Misesian, and Don's project did not end in a dead-end, it suffered the fate of many projects when it becomes identified with a person and that person passes. There were no doubt major problems with the way Don set up the project that need to be worked out, but Don has been so influential on a variety of research directions in modern Austrian economics --- from work on non-positivistic and non-formalistic social science, to the analysis of socialism and interventionism, to the examination of the mechanisms of anarcho-capitalism.

Don Lavoie's research and teaching should be remembered in our circle and that is all I was trying to defend against what I considered to be false claims.

It seems difficult to believe that Levoie understood Mises better than Rothbard, who Mises personally commended.

But, on a more critical note, I think Rothbard had excellent criticism of hermenetics, which to my understanding seems like a philosophical justification for moral relativism. There was some consulting company that came to Simon to do a conference on leadership (I forget their name). But they were affiliated with Mike Jensen, and had hermenetical philosophical background. In any event, while they had some useful things to say, the philosophical underpinnings was BS. They talk about "stories", w/c of course implies things such as rapist and rape-victim, just "his story" and "her story". And all that stuff about meaning being unknowable.

PS: The company was Landmark Education Business Development.

other bothersome things mentioned in that seminar include quotes such as, or something to this effect, "forget about if it's true or false, just think about if it's useful," or "it's useful". Of course stating something is useful is a true/false statement.

One of the papers I read for the seminar is available here:

My prior comments aside, I do think there are some things of value in the paper I linked to for example; they just need a better philosophical foundation, and some refining. A complete purging of the relativistic hermenetical style of language would be a good, if superficial start, to at least get the right mindset...

I mean, err, consider the possibility of the throwiness of that story...

Yes, I think Rothbard was right in linking praxeology to phenomenology. His paper in the Nathanson book is right on target. Mises, on the other hand, was wrong in making certain claims on behalf of praxeology, which is one reason why Human Action did not really make it in the mainstream. If praxeology is to be a deductive science like mathematics, then the true heirs of Mises are Debreu , Arrow...


I don't want to defend hermeneutics, but make a point of clarification. Lavoie was defending "phenomenological hermeneutics" --- it was Gadamer's unique blend of Husserl and Heidegger. Lavoie was not a relativist and neither is philosophical hermeneutics. See Richard Bernstein's Beyond Objectivism and Relativism for at least a presentation of the position you want to attack.

Also on Mises's endorsement, yes Rothbard was a valued student of Mises, as was Sennholz, as was Kirzner. Have you ever asked yourself why Kirzner was the one who got the job at NYU even though he graduated from NYU?

Kirzner was Mises's direct PhD student and he was a very close associate. As Israel has said about his own work, everything he has done was in the attempt to elaborate Mises's system. And Mises recognized Kirzner in this regard. So the question of heir to a system is very much a contested issue. I'd say you have 3 major competitors to that system: Hayek, Rothbard, Kirzner --- and I think it is a huge mistake to believe there is only 1 path.

Talking about interpretation and subjective meaning and intersubjectivity does not commit one to relativism, but it does commit one to methodological dualism and the Austrian school agenda in economics I would argue.

Ludwig ---

It depends on what you want out of the deductive system and whether you are worried about a theory of human action, or a theory of automa. Mises argued that we had to worry about the starting point, and it couldn't just be a set of arbitrary axioms. He is clear about this in Human Action, and it is where he ties to phenomenology ---- reflections on the essence of human action. Arrow and Debreu represents a deductive system, but not one concerning human action. At least that is how I would start this conversation.

See my paper "Man as a Machine" -- as an attempt to get at this. Another paper which is interesting along these lines is Mittimier's "Mechanomorphism" in the feitshrift Kirzner edited in honor of Lachmann.


As someone who's carefully read both sides of the hermeneutics debate, I'm struck by several things.

First, the two sides consistently talked past each other.

Lavoie's 1985 essay on "The Interpretive Dimension of Economics," the one that Rothbard criticized so forcefully in the RAE, was largely an attack on formalism and positivism in mainstream economics and a celebration of praxeology for being a science that was principally concerned with "grasping the meaning of action." There are dozens (hundreds?) of quotes from Mises that say just about the same thing. It was also an attempt to defend Austrian economics from an attack that was being aimed at economics in general from without; by then, the so called interpretive turns was well underway in all the other social sciences and certainly in the humanities. It was an attempt to say the critiques of economics from without that we aren't like our brethren in the mainstream in important ways and that we share some of your frustrations with them.

Additionally, Lavoie claimed that Gadamer was a useful club for us Austrians to use against our brethren in the mainstream, especially on the grounds of should we be concerned with prediction or understanding. I happen to agree with Lavoie that Gadamer's work on understanding largely jives with Mises' discussions of meaning, say, in _Epistemological Problems_. But that's neither here nor there.

This last claim about Gadamer and Mises' views on understanding being largely consistent was arguably the claim that got him into hot water. Victory against the mainstream if it meant embracing the nihilism of hermeneutics was a victory that wasn't worth having. For his efforts, Lavoie was described as a "renegade Austrian" and "an ex-Misesian" who was so afraid of mathematics that he would accept anyone as a friend who said that math was their enemy. Although I disagree with the notion that Gadamer was a nihilist, he actually criticized nihilism and nihilists quite strongly, I agree that if Lavoie had embraced nihilism he would have deserved to be criticized and that Gadamer is all too easily confused with true nihilists like Deridda.

But there it was, one side thinking they had found a powerful ally in the fight against positivism and formalism and the other side thinking that anyone who embraced hermeneutics was embracing nihilism. Arguably, neither side was willing to accept the other was anything but confused.

The second striking thing about the debate is that the hermeneutical economists never really responded to the charges leveled against them.

I think there are several possible reasons why. First, the historical connection between the Austrian school and hermeneutics seemed clear (Pete's point above). It didn't seem the subject of debate. Second, Gadamer was no nihilist (see above). Third, they must have thought their Austrian credentials, as it were, were in tack. Don, after all, was a South Royalton Austrian. Forth, the hermeneutical Austrians held their attackers in really high regard, disagreeing on their assessment of hermeneutics but agreeing with much of their economics. Fifth, the attacks were often quite vitriol and its difficult to respond to vitriol attacks (saying "i'm not an ex-Misesian" is kind of like saying "i'm not a crook").

Whatever the reason, rather than defending themselves point by point they opted to push ahead; exploring, for example, how Gadamer might help clarify the way prices work (i.e. signals that need to be interpreted) and trying to extend and clarify their positions.

This, in my opinion, was a mistake. If for no other reason because it makes it easy to characterize the hermeneutical Austrians as deviants who were resisted and roundly defeated.

The third striking thing about the debate or at least the way its described is that it imputes motives to the hermeneutical Austrians that are just off base. Let me ask it this way, What do people think winning the debate would have looked like for Lavoie? Some seem to assume that he would have wanted to replace _Human Action_ with _Theory and Method_. This couldn't be further from the truth. In the 90s, long after the debate, Lavoie was assigning and recommending _Human Action_ to students he taught in the Cultural Studies and Public Policy Ph.D. programs at GMU. His hopes were nothing like than throwing out _Human Action_ (a book that he loved) and I'd argue that, if judged on terms he would have accepted, time has actually proven him right. It seems clear from reading those articles and his subsequent work on culture was that what he wanted was to find the strongest philosophical support possible for doing "applied work" in economics that looked more like economic anthropology or old school history than it did like econometrics. Perhaps, the reply might be Mises' epistemological arguments were enough and that we've always had a tradition of doing that kind of applied work in Austrian economics. But, it's also clear that Lavoie's embrace of hermeneutics was at least part of the reason that his students (and their students including those who are critical of the interpretive turn) have been so committed to doing "applied work" that tries to grasp the particular meanings that particular people or groups of people attached to their actions.

Of course, I meant Gadamer's _Truth and Method_ above(not _Theory and Method_). And, I apologize for the other smaller typos.

You say it depends upon what I want out of a deductive system. Anyway praxeology does not have the structure of a deductive system. I guess with all your philosophy background you will grant that point. Still there may be some system, but it´s a description of (possible) systems that exist in the real world, not a formal deductive system. Moreover I think you are nowhere without some kind of model and I have serious doubts about the possibility of constructing a model by mere reflection from your armchair about the implications of the notion of human action. You must get beyond mere "meaning analysis".
In Mises the model of the economy remains rather implicit; it´s already more explicit in Hayek and Garrison. If geometry, algebra, other mathematical tools etc. can help make the model more explicit I do not see where the problem is.

Prof. Klein,

I didn't mean to say Rothbard was the only heir (excluding Hayek, Kirzner, Sennholtz), just that I didn't see how understood Mises better than (for example) Rothbard.

I've found the book you referred to on the UOR's library webpage, but before I go there, are there any papers online you'd recommend? (preferrably ones that don't suffer from the incomprehensibility Rothbard ridiculed in Heidegger and Gadamer.

As the editor of Critical Review, which was a primary outlet for Lavoie and the "Lavoie boys" (including Pete) during their hermeneutical phase, I have one thing to offer.

I've been re-reading those early issues of Critical Review from 1987+, because coincident with our 20th anniversary, Routledge will now be publishing CR, and I wanted to write an intro to the first Routledge issue that explains the journal's trajectory over that period.

Looked at from the perspective of a common thread that started with Hayek and led to Critical Review's current focus on the electorate's and the elites' ignorance of economics, the connection to hermeneutics seems clear: the social and economic problems that social democracies try to solve are subject to conflicting *causal interpretations,* and the complexity of the society and economy that throws forth these problems guarantees that the conflicting interpretations about their causes will not be easy for anyone--even an econ Ph.D.!--to resolve. Hence the likelihood that social democracies will produce bad public policies.

In the previous issue of CR, I had a little debate with Kirzner where I tried to extend the interpretivist line that I've been applying to politics back to Austrian economics itself. Kirzner seems to resist the idea that entrepreneurs have to interpret profit opportunities and that, just like political entrepreneurs and voters, economic entrepreneurs can be *wrong* in their interepretations. (That's why they so often lose money, I would think.) Austrian entrepreneurial theory, it seems to me, can't blithely rely on entrepreneurial "alertness" to profit opportunities, as if the latter simply announce themselves to the world with no need to be interpreted.

Critical Review openly applies Austrian insights to politics, but in telling political scientists that if they want to understand the source of manifold political errors (and misunderstandings), they need to take an "interpretive turn," I wonder if I'm not just seizing on the word "interpretation" and inappropriately linking it to Austrianism via the old hermeneutical turn of Lavoie & Co.

Since I, too, found the relativistic implications of hermeneutics alienating, I have not read in that tradition beyond what I published in CR (except Taylor and the other communitarians, about whom I wrote my dissertation, and who are, as philosophers, charlatans--precisely because of their inability to dodge relativism). So any reactions from the hermeneutically inclined would be appreciated. If you want to do so privately, email


I still add that I am reading Debreu for the moment and it´s not about machines or robots. It´s about what Hayek calls the Pure Logic of Choice. It´s not quite correct either to say that the axioms are "arbitrary"; "conventional" would be better perhaps. It´s not true that Mises was against the use of equilibrium constructs; in fact, what you find in Mises instead is a vigorous plea exactly in favour of the use of such constructs...
Now suppose that Debreu had arrived at the conclusion that however "arbitrary" the axioms you choose, it is never possible to prove the existence of a competitive equilibrium. I guess that conclusion would have interested even you...


I'm puzzled. You frequently exhort Austrian economists, on this blog and elsewhere, to do more and better applied work and to avoid "meta-economics." Yet here you are, endorsing Lavoie's excursion into Continental philosophy with nary a qualifier. "Don understood that Mises's revolutionary idea was to establish economics as a philosophic science --- a science of human action that respected meaning and intentionality. And in order to achieve that revolution the phenomenological philosophic turn must be made."

Well, could you give one or two specific examples of applied work in industrial organization, economic development, monetary economics, finance, labor, or any other field that benefits from making the "interpretive turn"? The lesson from Lavoie's project can't simply be "do more case studies," because there are scores of ethnographers, sociologists, anthropologists, historians, and even economists who do excellent field work without having read Gadamer or Husserl. In short, why should the applied economist care about any of this?

Peter Klein,

Mises also recognized that the academy generally does not favor innovation and daring. The purpose of the academy has always been to rear disciples who hopefully develop into obedient imitators and routinists. But the true scholar is one who defies these standards and rules. And in the context of economics, I believe it is one who is not afraid to make "the interpretive turn."

Is there "excellent field work" being done in applied economics? I would disagree. To the extent that they regard the philosophical implications of their work and findings to be unimportant and not entirely relevant, than perhaps there is some plausibility in your argument. But this does little to support your case. Insisting on ignorance as a way of defending your view of economics only begs the question. We realize that all economics begins with methodology. So there must be some reason that the people working in finance, labor, and industrial organization insist on keeping philosophical discourse out of the workplace. What could be the reason?

I think the current practice of applied economics would collapse if they read people like W.V.O. Quine, Roy Bhaskar, W. W. Bartley, Nancy Cartwright, Uskali Maki, etc. etc. Admittedly, their efforts largely have been directed at the philosophy of science, but it is not difficult to take the leap into economics. In fact, most economic professors of economic methodology are well-read in this literature, and for good reason.

In short, I think it is a poor argument to suggest that just because people working in the field of economics today are ignorant of the developments taking place in the philosophy of science and hermeneutics must mean that these things have nothing important to teach us or contribute to economic science.
I would approach the argument a different way. Assuming that some economists are familiar with this literature, why is it that they persist in remaining silent over the possible connections it has with economics. Or what would happen if we began introducing these subjects into the economics classroom?


I didn't say that applied economists are in fact better off not knowing any philosophy. I simply asked for examples of applied economics research that builds specifically on the literature and concepts cited by Pete. Can you provide names or references?

As the title of his principal work, Truth and Method, suggests, Gadamer wished to contrast science, which proceeds methodically, with non-methodical truth. It is difficult to see how this view can provide the basis for praxeology, which Mises took to be the science of human action. The unfolding of the concept of action that Mises carries out is not at all like Gadamer's textual hermeneutics. I'm not familiar with any evidence that Mises read Gadamer. He had a low opinion of Heidegger, Gadamer's teacher and the main influence on him.

For Husserl's influence on Mises, the case is better, but not I think decisive. Mises read Husserl and in Human Action cited a famous paper by him on temporal consciousness, but he also read many other philosophers whom he cited when he thought their views supported his. Mises cited Meyerson and Cassirer, but this hardly makes him a disciple of either. Husserl took meaning and intentionality seriously, but he is hardly the only philosopher to do so.

I was the first person to mention Don Lavoie in the comments to Pete's earlier post, so I guess Pete’s criticism of a “rush to judgment” is at least partly meant for me. So nobody has to seek it out, here’s what I wrote:

"Here’s an alternative hypothesis. The hermeneutic diversion (led by Don Lavoie) turned out to be a waste of time. (I voiced my concern that it would while it was going on. Pete used to refer my concern as “the White critique”: for graduate students in economics the opportunity cost of studying Gadamer exceeds the benefits.) That it failed to produce useful output gave Boettke (and the Kochs) good reason to decide to change course."

By the way, this was meant as a defense of Pete’s apparent change in outlook. To compound the irony, it was an attempted application of verstehen.

Pete now defends Lavoie’s hermeneutic turn thusly: “It was not started out of laziness with respect to doing economics, but out of a profound sense that unless the philosophic battle was won Austrians couldn't get a fair hearing.”

I didn’t suggest that Lavoie or his students were lazy. (Nor that he picked Gadamer at random.) My claim was rather that their efforts in hermeneutics produced less valuable output than they could have in alternative employment (hence “waste”). How do I propose to measure value of output? Exactly as Pete would have us measure it: by “bean-counting” journal and book publications, and impact on the economics profession.

To be clear, I am not saying that nobody should ever study hermeneutics. My advice applies at the margin: an Austrian graduate student who -- once he has read what Austrian economists have written on methodology -- is choosing between work in economics and work in meta-economics is best advised to focus on the former.

The hypothesis Pete attributes to Lavoie, that “unless the philosophic battle was won Austrians couldn’t get a fair hearing,” is basically false, in my view. The key to “getting a fair hearing” from mainstream economists is – as I thought Pete would agree, in light of the advice he has given as noted by Peter Klein – not to stress meta-economics or philosophy but to provide better explanatory conjectures (and refutations) for phenomena that interest economists (or to interest them in phenomena for which one has better explanations). I don’t see any evidence to support the view that the best way to advance Austrian economics is to have more grad students try to “win” the “philosophic battle” in the sense of trying to convince established economists to drop their methodological commitments. It is not helpful advice.

I counted Don Lavoie as a friend. (Trivia: He left NYU just as I was arriving, and he kindly helped me find an apartment. In fact, I moved into the apartment he was vacating.) I too admire and recommend his first two books. There is no personal disrespect intended in any of the above.

My beef with Gadamer and Habermas and all the hermeneutic guys is that you can read and read and read and never come near the kind of practical, explanatory, policy planning kind of issues that we are supposed to be concerned about. Same applies to GET and mathematical formalism and most econometric models. You can probably get a better grip on the theoretical problems and issues in human action by analysing a ballgame. What if someone runs that approach past some students to see if it flies? (I don't have access to students).

Larry's (and Peter's) challenge is of course the appropriate one for an ECONOMIST to raise to the Lavoie inspired research program. And, here I must admit that the evidence is more mixed than Don would have hoped for. But I contend that is because of his time being consumed by administration and his untimely illness.

But during his time Don did accomplish the following with respect to his students.

Several wrote books as their dissertations --- from Roy Cordato's work on welfare economics to Emily Chamlee-Wright's work on African economic development. Many essays were published in professional journals from HOPE to Economic Development and Cultural Change and in between. Several of his students have published multiple books and have been given prestigious fellowships (Dave Prychitko was at Cornell and Yugoslavia on different occasions).

So Don inspired work led to books, journal articles, fellowships and tenure track appointments at solid liberal arts colleges and some PhD institutions. It also influenced the way those students have approached their students.

Can all this be attributed to hermeneutics? Of course not. Don was on a path to educate and influence a generation of economists before he moved into hermeneutics. But it was so much a part of his educational philosophy, that it would also be a mistake to assume it had nothing to do with his approach. And in the work of the students, you can see this emphasis on methodological dualism, subjectivism, intersubjectivism, and market process. It is not just meta-economics, but the way one does applied economics and political economy. What questions one asks?

Even now, if I can say so, my students tend to focus on the application and not on the meta-economics (save Virgil, who was both a student of Don and myself). But look at their questions and they way they answer --- the economic ethnography of Stringham, the focus on case studies in Coyne, the emphasis on intersubjective signalling and process of self-governance in Leeson, focus on development and transition in Scott Beaulier, the work on culture in Anthony Evans, and the critique of planning in development policy in Ben Powell.

I am extremely proud of all of these students --- and others, such as Sahar Ahktar, who is now a professional philosopher after earning her 2nd PhD and now at Brown as a fellow for the year (with a professorship waiting for her at William & Marry). But I can honestly say that all of these students are really products of Don Lavoie's vision --- in economics, in philosophy, and in teaching. I am little more than a caretaker of Don's vision.

So it is that collective product of a generation of students that I provide as evidence to Larry and Peter's challenge. I know it doesn't answer their direct question concerning a piece of work that demonstrates the value of hermeneutics over just learning Austrian economics and respecting the discipline of economic history. As Larry used to put it, "what is the value of the marginal product of reading Gadamer over reading Mises?" It is an excellent question and one that I am not sure I have answered. But the value added of Don Lavoie to Austrian economics was (and remains) great in my opinion. Look at the number of PhD students he produced in his short career, look at the placement of those students, look at their books, look at their articles, and most importantly look at the students they are producing who have decided to pursue a carer doing Austrian economics and classical liberal political economy.

Don was not a failed academic, but an inspiring teacher, and world-class scholar, and an absolutely wonderful human being. It is with great sadness that my words are written in the past tense, and with so much gratitude that I proclaim myself his student.

To put a question back to Larry and Peter, can you name me another Austrian economist (besides Lavoie) who had as many students publish their dissertations as books with academic publishers, publish journal articles in respected outlets of their chosen field, and earn academic appointments where they teach Austrian economics to the next generation of students? And produce students themselves who go on to earn a PhD and attempt to contribute themselves to the literature within Austrian economics.

Just look at Steve Horwitz, David Prychitko, and Emily Chamlee Wright as examples. Who else did that?

This is an empirical question -- but one that we can get the data on rather quickly I think. I also think young students in Austrian economics might find that data interesting ---- # of PhD students, placement of those PhD students in academia, and contribution of those students in terms of books, articles, and students.

Rafe: What is most applicable about the interpretive turn is its ability to answer the question "How is economic coordination possible?"

Dr. Peter Klein: Your own applied work on entreprenuership builds upon the notion that complex social relations require human cooperation not in face-to-face environments but in anonymity (or the coordination of purposeful human action). Now you are not citing the work(s)of Heidigger, Habermas, or a Peter Berger or Georg Simmel but you are "getting at" the knowledge problem that Hayek emphasizes in the "CounterRevolution of Science." Hey, if economics is at all concerned about what people think and do, as the commentees on this blog by and large believe, then investigations into the "intersubjectivity" (or the rules of human interaction) of social life is a must! What the Boettke(s) and Lavoie(s) are doing (did) is developing that arena of praxeology that does not fit neatly into the realm of catallactics (Not meta-economics). What, I believe, Max Weber and Lavoie would have done if a higher power did not call upon them sooner.

Finally, I will take the liberty of answering the question you posed to Mr. Mueller by referring you to a work entitled "Enterprising Slaves and Master Pirates."

The data about career making, the "bean-counting" etc., however important, should not be confused with the act of producing a valid scientific argument. Scientificity on the one hand, and making a conventional career on the other, remain different things, certainly in a field where "fads and fashions" reign as never before... If the aim is to make a conventional career, why not simply advise your students to give up Austrian economics altogether?


You write: "Joe --- we really shouldn't be engaged in our own version of "fight club". As a scholar I am asked to make judgments, as are you. It is my considered judgment that you are challenging. You are entitled, though I am not sure you are justified in your characterization of my statements."

Fight club is an inapt and insulting metaphor for our exchange. You made the categorical statement that "Don Lavoie understood Mises better than all but two other Austrian economists (Israel Kirzner and Richard Ebeling)." You provided absolutely no evidence or argument to support what many Austrians would consider a very controversial statement. It was thus not a "considered judgment" but a "pontification" in Webster's sense of "an opinion expressed in a dogmatic or pompous way." The reader was supposed to accept it on faith and without question. Well I questioned: I asked you a series of reasonable questions about how you arrived at your conclusion and you have refused to answer. My response was completely impersonal, and I was not trying to pick a fight with you. Had Garrison or Huelsmann or White or even Rothbard made a similar pronouncement, I would have posed the same series of questions. Challenging and being challenged intellectually by other scholars, including one's friends, in an aggressive manner is part of the the process of the scientific truth seeking process and is not to be taken personally. No one is above ctriticism on any topic no matter how many articles he has published in mainstream journals. As Mises wrote in this regard: "Man is not infallible. He searches for truth. . . . Man can never become omniscient. He can never be absolutely certain that his inquiries were not misled and that what he considers as certain truth is not error. All that man can do is submit all his theories again and again to the most critical reexamination." Austrian economics does not need a pope who refuses to explain or debate his utterances. It needs humble scolars carrying on their work and willing to engage in the rough and tumble of academic debate withour fear or favor toward anyone.

Later in the same post you write: "But you know all those journal articles and book chapters you complained about for being methodological, they were mostly about Mises and his position on methodology and method etc." But I never "complained about" any of your methodological articles. Nor did I attempt to judge their quality, because I have not read any of them. I merely totaled them up and revealed that you have published more methodological articles since the year 2000 than 13 other Austrian economists have published collectively in their entire careers. My point, which you apparently missed or do not care to engage, was to demonstrate your inconsistency in criticizing "us" Austrian economists for concentrating so narrowly on methodology. I have never complained about methodological research. Unlike you, I have never proposed strategic research agenda for other Austrians to follow which would enable them to achieve acceptance by the mainstream.

I hope this is taken in the collegial spirit in which it was intended.

I was told that Murray Rothbard used to say that economists tend to specialize in those topics at which they are very, very bad. Is it conceivable that certain Austrian economists specialize in methodology and that... ? A phenomenological or hermeneutical turn is the last thing Austrian economics needs at this moment. Austrians have great ideas but they don´t master the tools yet... That´s how some mainstream economists talk about Austrians...

I cannot understand why Joe Salerno is so mad at Pete.

The bottom-line concerning the way for Austrian ideas to progress is as follows:

What is the best journal Joe has published in? What is the best journal Pete has published in?
What is the best journal one of best Joe's students has published in? What is the best journal that one of Pete's average students (let alone a star like Leeson) has published in?

Weigh up the evidence and decide which vision (Pete's or Joe's) bodes best for the future.

My $$$ are bet on the Boettke-vision.

Ok. Lets just be blunt:

How does Joe Salerno's best journal hit square up to the best journal one of Boettke's average students (let alone guys like Leeson, Coyne, Beaulier, etc) has published in?

Anyone still want to bet against the future of Boettke-nomics?

Another bottom-line is: who has cited or quoted these papers? Many papers (perhaps most) in top journals do not get quoted or cited even once...
Joe says he does not read Pete´s papers and nor do I.
But admittedly even that bottom-line is questionable. Why? Because it all boils down to a dubious argument from authority.
The only bottom-line is ultimately scientific rigor, but then as a heterodox Austrian you are clearly before a dilemma: since you are heterodox you do not (or need not) share the mainstream criteria of scientific rigor so the value of publishing in mainstream journals is dubious by your own criteria anyway, yes? Or else you publish in your own journals but then you are no longer respectable along different criteria... So yes Austrians should discuss about the criteria, that is, about methodology...

Another bottom-line is: who has cited or quoted these papers? Many papers (perhaps most) in top journals do not get quoted or cited even once...
Joe says he does not read Pete´s papers and nor do I.
But admittedly even that bottom-line is questionable. Why? Because it all boils down to a dubious argument from authority.
The only bottom-line is ultimately scientific rigor, but then as a heterodox Austrian you are clearly before a dilemma: since you are heterodox you do not (or need not) share the mainstream criteria of scientific rigor so the value of publishing in mainstream journals is dubious by your own criteria anyway, yes? Or else you publish in your own journals but then you are no longer respectable along different criteria... So yes Austrians should discuss about the criteria, that is, about methodology...

Another bottom-line is: who has cited or quoted these papers? Many papers (perhaps most) in top journals do not get quoted or cited even once...
Joe says he does not read Pete´s papers and nor do I.
But admittedly even that bottom-line is questionable. Why? Because it all boils down to a dubious argument from authority.
The only bottom-line is ultimately scientific rigor, but then as a heterodox Austrian you are clearly before a dilemma: since you are heterodox you do not (or need not) share the mainstream criteria of scientific rigor so the value of publishing in mainstream journals is dubious by your own criteria anyway, yes? Or else you publish in your own journals but then you are no longer respectable along different criteria... So yes Austrians should discuss about the criteria, that is, about methodology...

I am really sorry the previous message came through three times; I don´t know why...

"If the aim is to make a conventional career, why not simply advise your students to give up Austrian economics altogether?"

The point is to have a career where you succeed in getting a hearing for Austrian ideas (the ideas of Mises, Hayek, and Kirzner) in the economic profession and at as high a level as you can achieve (the higher the better). Hence the relevance and importance of publishing in high-quality refereed rather than non-refereed movement (largely) 'preaching to the choir' journals and of actively engaging the best and brightest in the economics profession rather than merely talking to folk who already agree and engaging in mutual back-slapping. The Boettke students are actively trying to advance Austrian ideas. More power to their efforts I say.


It's fine if you want to count journal articles in top mainstream journals. But then why not just do whatever other mainstreamer are doing, in the childish intellectual game they all play with unrealistic and even impossible/contradictory models?

The ultimate goal is to advance Austrian economics, not just in popularity, but also in truth, and in broad grass-roots support. Why? Firstly, because it is a valid abd true paradign for doing economics research. Truth is important in-and-of itself. Secondly, because ab understanding of AE almost invariably leads away from state-intervention and towards libertarianism.

Prof. Boettke believes that the best way to advance AE is by publishing in mainstream journals. Certainly, he's done well in that, and no-one could say he compromised his Austrianism to do it.

To me, and many at the LvMI, that seems like an uphill or rather upstream battle. There are incentives and selection processes in place to ensure that research favorable to the state is advanced -- at least in broad paradigm. The solution is to do an end-run around all of that non-sense and create our own journals and publications. Books such as Hoppe's Democracy have, for example, been influential in Eastern European countries, where many are fed up with Statism. I could pose a similarly sarcastic question, like the one you asked, and say who else, besides Hoppe, has had audience with the Prince of Liechtenstein, or various paleocons in East Europe.

I would submit that more economic truth, and more progress for liberty, is made in the QJAE, RAE, JLS, than in all of the top mainstream journals combined, maybe even all mainstream journals. And certainly, the quality (in terns of truth-value) per issue is much higher. Suddha Shenoy has accurately said that all mainstream econ departments could disappear without negatively impacting progress towards economic truth. We could only be so lucky.

You also seem to ignore the research on the "impact games" -- such as too-frequent self-citing -- that go on in mainstream journals.

One other note: many Austrians may find that what interests the mainstream seems completely unimportant to them.

"I could pose a similarly sarcastic question, like the one you asked, and say who else, besides Hoppe, has had audience with the Prince of Liechtenstein, or various paleocons in East Europe."

Whoop-de-do. I am soooooooo impressed. Lets hope he persuaded the Prince to tighten up immigration controls and get tougher on those deviant gays.

The Prince is obviously way more important than a non-royal like Shleifer, Greif, or Doug North.

And you wonder why many non-LVMI Austrians think the LVMI is full of crazies?


Again, many Austrians reasonably think that mainstream econ & the journal running wheel, is a fixed game, so why bother playing? The strategy is to do an end-run around it, to build our own movement.

People like Ron Paul are here b/c of the LvMI and those who created it, or inspired it. B/c Austrians wanted to educate the public. The vast majority of Austrian economics shares the genius of Beethoven*: despite being profound and insightful, it is still accessible to the public. Mainstream econ is inaccessible to the public, of w/c we can be thankful, because it's a bunch of incomprehensible mindless non-sense. I assure you that Ron Paul does not read mainstream economics journals, nor books published by them.

* Bernstein on the 9th symphony: "It's accessible, but not ordinary"

I hope poor HHH did not hurt his knees or forehead while bowing and scraping and bootlicking and fawning to the Prince and other paleocon dignitaries.

Give me Hillary Clinton any day over the Prince (de gustibus!)

David writes, "There are incentives and selection processes in place to ensure that research favorable to the state is advanced -- at least in broad paradigm"

Please name one 'mainstream' journal to which you think your statement applies.

Prof. Boettke, I'd love you to blog on what you make of Terence Hutchison (just died apparently).

I hope you have time to do this.

Best wishes


It´s really naive to think that the only or best way to advance and promote Austrian economics among the mainstream consists in publishing a few articles in semi-mainstream journals, as if those folks in Harvard, Yale, Columbia or elsewhere cannot go and sit before their PC, surf the internet and read what is published in the QJAE from the MI site...
Let´s be honest: individuals who publish in mainstream journals do it to advance their own careers - which, by the way, is a respectable ambition - and I don´t think
Pete´s students are an exception...

The great thing about the situation at present is that there are enough Austrians and quasi Austrians so nobody has to try to emulate Rothbard and do everything from theoretical heavy lifting through teaching and popular articles to political organizing and activism. Some can turn their backs on the mainstream, some can infiltrate it and some can play a mixed strategy. The main thing is to make sure our ballcarriers are never running without support, and we all need to do our share of defensive tackling (this comes from a game where there is one team that does both offence and defence).

"It´s really naive to think that the only or best way to advance and promote Austrian economics among the mainstream consists in publishing a few articles in semi-mainstream journals, as if those folks in Harvard, Yale, Columbia or elsewhere cannot go and sit before their PC, surf the internet and read what is published in the QJAE from the MI site"

No difference in quality then between QJE and QJAE? I assume (hope) you do not seriously believe that.


I accept that your criticized me and my statements. I tried to provide you with a counter argument as to why my statements were not just mere opinions, but what I would consider considered opinions (despite that they differ from yours). You don't find my counter argument persuasive, in fact you might say that they aren't arguments. This is why as you pointed out, you don't read my articles.

I accept that fate. I am sorry I haven't persuaded you that (a) it is worth paying attention to what I am up to, and (b) that the content of my argument (not style) is actually one that was inspired by ideas we share in common.

Do know that I read your essays very carefully, I teach them in my PhD class, and discuss what I think are great strengths and also points of disagreement.

I certainly would never want anyone to get the impression that I am insular with respect to critique of my or any other positions I hold dearly. I want to invite criticism. I don't find all forms of criticism productive, but some criticisms are vital from improvement.

I certainly would love to write something that could impress you and your colleagues at the LvMI --- Ludwig apparently doesn't read anything by me either (though I did serve for a time being on an ill fated thesis work for him for which I wrote a defense of his impressive work). Again, all writers find it disappointing when their work doesn't inspire even a sampling. I will try harder to write articles that will capture your imagination.

One thing I want to make clear to all --- I don't have the arrogance you are infering. I actually consider myself a failed academic who is just trying to do the best he can given the limited talents he possesses. I have had the great fortune to work with outstanding students at NYU and GMU (and overseas). I take great pride in my association with them, but I give the credit to them. I am very lucky --- though I do believe in the phrase from Franklin or Jefferson (I don't remember who) when they said "I believe in good luck, and the harder the work the more good luck I find." But with me it is not in my role as a researcher, but as a teacher where I have had my good luck. As a researcher, I am completely and foreever dissatisfied with my efforts --- I want to do better and I want to learn more and develop better skills at thinking and writing. I am just not as good as I would like in that compartment. So I just keeping working at it, publishing in the journals, in books and writing books. I hope to keep doing that throughout my career, and hopefully someday I will make a contribution that will equal my aspirations.

The other day I put up on line a sports quote "Practice in Proportion to your Aspirations." I told everyone to substitute the work "Work hard" on economics in proportion to your aspirations. That advice is for me as well as anyone else.

One final thing, Joe in my capacity as a PhD adviser and also as the placement director and DGS for many years I am asked all the time about how young economists are to get ahead. The evidence on my advise has worked out pretty good so far --- 3 of the students are teaching in PhD programs, 2 of them have major university press contracts for books, many others have great teaching jobs, significant publications, and ALL are teaching Austrian and free market economics. Tell me how I am being pompous and pontificating without evidence. The evidence is easy to follow with regard to these students. They are making significant headway, 1 of them will (in my opinion) prove to be the most significant young economist to come along in a generation, another has written the most important book on the most pressing policy topic of our age. We should be celebrating their accomplishment as a community of scholars. Princeton University Press, Stanford University Press, Journal of Law and Economics, Journal of Economic Perspectives, etc. are not (as Ludwig said) quasi-mainstream outlets. Time to revise priors and look at the evidence. These guys are accomplishing something we haven't seen in a long time. They must be doing something right.


This civil war between Auburn and Fairfax has to stop. Auburn is a redoubt of libertarian theory and GMU is a think tank for mainstreaming Austrian economists into the profession. These are complementary functions. Both do what they do very well.

BTW I am sad to say that I have come to point where I think Lavoi was wrong about Gadamer. But he was not wrong in his overall project, which was to put value freedom in its proper perspective within the social sciences. He thought he had found the key to this in Gadamerian hermenutics. I think the same thing could have been more cogently attained by returning to the early phenomenologists, and reworking the linkage between phenmenology and praxiology on a basis somewhat different than that which appears in Mises. After all, even Mises himself wasn't perfect!


Yes, there's a difference in quality between the QJE and QJAE, the QJAE is better.

I don't know why you're here if you don't think otherwise.

After all, the first and most important aspect of quality is correctness. All that mainstream stuff about how the state needs to regulate markets, try to tame business cycles, fix "market failures" is a series of falsehoods.

Hi Pete,

I just wanted to chime in because you always seem sincere in your posts and then sometimes surprised that people get riled up by what you say. (And yes let's get this out of the way: You and Salerno were already publishing papers on Mises when I was still studying Optimus Prime.)

In the beginning you said:

"In recent debates on this blog several commentators have made reference to the dead-end of the hermeneutic turn in the Austrian school from the 1980s. But truth is not determined by raising hands. It is not a function of popularity."

But then for some reason it seemed that your argument changed, and then it became a matter of who had more students etc. So that confused me. I too always thought it was a bit of an irrelevant jab at Lavoie that critics would say "it didn't go anywhere," but it seems your real response is that it DID go somewhere.

Also, if you know that plenty of LvMI people are reading, then surely a casual statement that Lavoie, Ebeling, and Kirzner were the top 3 understanders of Mises is going to make people go through the roof. (And I totally admit I have heard equivalently non-backed-up statements in Auburn about Kirzner.)

So again, my point in posting this is that you seem that you are really trying to get your "critics" to understand you, and that perhaps you are mystified why people always get so mad at your posts, when you are just trying to enlighten. So in that spirit, I wanted to let you know that I was initially sympathetic to your topic (e.g. I thought Lavoie's work on the calculation debate was fantastic) but you (a) confused me halfway through when you apparently changed your argument 180 degrees and (b) made me think, "Whoa, there's a gratuitous slam of Rothbard out of nowhere!"

A plea to all of you scholars from a regular libertarian non-economist:

Along with my daily run thru, MR, EconLog, Cafe Hayek and here, I read left-leaning economic blogs like the Economist's View by Thoma and Rodrik's blog.

Why not liven the discussions and add a comment or two to these blogs?

Sorry, I meant to say that I cannot read everything you write. I have quoted your writings or editings at least three times. If I remember well, I cited the Elgar Companion to Austrian Economics in my article for the Encyclopedia of Law and Economics, which is a much read reference work. I also cited some of your writings in articles for the EJLE and Procesos de Mercado.

I object against your saying you are "a failed academic". You shouldn´t do this, out of respect for your students. Also it´s inconsistent with the other claims you make.

To: "Rothbardian",
I definitely believe QJE is better than QJAE!
Also the people at the MI do not do everything they can to attract the best work and the best scholars, I don´t know why...
From that perspective Pete´s students, if they can do what they do without compromising on their Austrian views, definitely deserve our admiration and support!

Your assistance in the molding of Leeson, Coyne, Ahktar, Bealueir, and Storr; as well as your gaining influence in the "mainstream" (i.e., among historians, sociologists, anthropologists, pol. scientists ---and yes, economists) suggests that you are an intellectual who Mises, Menger, Weber, Kirzner, Hazlitt, Rothbard, and Hayek would be proud to have had make known their work.

(Of course this is no knock on Salerno, Gordon, Hoppe, Woods, and many others at the LvMI; they get the lion share of credit for promulgating Austrian econ. and anarcho-libertarianism.)

To: Mark Sunwall-
Mises was great but not perfect. His greatest contributions are in monetary theory and in the theory of socialism, but in the field of methodology it´s really a mixed bag. Now there is a positive side to this in that his work contains the germs of different possible and possibly divergent developments. As I said already, the mathematical economists could easily cite certain passages of Mises and then claim that they are his true heirs...
What praxeologists have actually done, however, is closer to the kind of descriptive analysis you also find in phenomenological writings. It would be a fraud to tell your students that praxeology amounts to rigorous deductive thinking.
Nevertheless this is sometimes what Mises seems to suggest. I think that he got disappointed because his great contributions didn´t meet the approval they deserved and that he then turned into something like a "great pretender".

To: Mark Sunwall-
Mises was great but not perfect. His greatest contributions are in monetary theory and in the theory of socialism, but in the field of methodology it´s really a mixed bag. Now there is a positive side to this in that his work contains the germs of different possible and possibly divergent developments. As I said already, the mathematical economists could easily cite certain passages of Mises and then claim that they are his true heirs...
What praxeologists have actually done, however, is closer to the kind of descriptive analysis you also find in phenomenological writings. It would be a fraud to tell your students that praxeology amounts to rigorous deductive thinking.
Nevertheless this is sometimes what Mises seems to suggest. I think that he got disappointed because his great contributions didn´t meet the approval they deserved and that he then turned into something like a "great pretender".

To: Mark Sunwall-
Mises was great but not perfect. His greatest contributions are in monetary theory and in the theory of socialism, but in the field of methodology it´s really a mixed bag. Now there is a positive side to this in that his work contains the germs of different possible and possibly divergent developments. As I said already, the mathematical economists could easily cite certain passages of Mises and then claim that they are his true heirs...
What praxeologists have actually done, however, is closer to the kind of descriptive analysis you also find in phenomenological writings. It would be a fraud to tell your students that praxeology amounts to rigorous deductive thinking.
Nevertheless this is sometimes what Mises seems to suggest. I think that he got disappointed because his great contributions didn´t meet the approval they deserved and that he then turned into something like a "great pretender".


"Also the people at the MI do not do everything they can to attract the best work and the best scholars, I don´t know why..."

Really? What exactly would you suggest they do? I submit that the best work in economics and the best scholars are at the MI, or affiliated.

But first, perhaps you can define "best". I suspect your view of best means "most recognized by the mainstream economists".

I view "best" as actually producing the most progress in our understanding of economics. That is, truth. Of course, most mainstream economists are on the career treadmill, and don't care about truth.

I find your claim that mainstream economists could claim to be Mises' true heirs absurd, as would anyone familiar with Mises, who wrote papers arguing against the improper use of mathematics in economics. You dismiss praxeology, stating "[i]t would be a fraud to tell your students that praxeology amounts to rigorous deductive thinking." Yet, you offer no arguments.

The best area of mainstream economists has been finance, and investment, where they've uncharacteristically relied on the assumption of market perfection (although this is unrealistic, and sets up a nirvana ideal to which markets can't live up to, thus is likely to produce regulation due to disappointment).

I see no reason to withdraw one word of what I wrote. What praxeology attempts to do, as I see it, is to get at the essence of economic phenomena; the appropriate method to that end is not typically formal-deductive reasoning. Barry Smith made a similar point when he wrote that Mises confuses the a priori with the analytic. I do not claim exactly to be a professional philosopher but I know phenomenologists have their own vocabulary to describe these methods of getting at the essence, "eidetic reduction (variation)", "phenomenological reduction" etc. For my purpose, it is sufficient to point out that it is a particular form of "description" rather than "deduction". If you want to see an example of deduction, take Euclid´s Elements, or even Spinoza... Clearly Human Action does not have a structure of this sort...
Mises´s critique of mathematical methods is directed at a very specific kind of mathematics, such as the use of differential equations, taken from classical physics etc. I have here Debreu´s Théorie de la Valeur on my desk and I find nothing of that kind of mathematics in there...

"Rothbardian," thanks for giving us such a clear way to measure progress in Austrian economics. I've done the math and, measured by (a) his own journal hits, with or without adjusting for citations, and (b) the journal hits of his students, citation-adjusted or not, the most influential Austrian today is obviously Paul Samuelson.

The work to which Dr Boettke refers to below is explicitly Austrian in flavor and in the way in which it tackles substantive real world questions. The work of Samuelson is not.

"Princeton University Press, Stanford University Press, Journal of Law and Economics, Journal of Economic Perspectives, etc. are not (as Ludwig said) quasi-mainstream outlets. Time to revise priors and look at the evidence. These guys are accomplishing something we haven't seen in a long time. They must be doing something right."

Amen to that.

As regards the first part of your question (concerning the meaning of "best") certainly I believe that those who pretend to belong to the "best" in the field of economics should be able to distinguish a strictly deductive pattern of reasoning from one that is not.
My point is only that the philosophical self-conception of many Austrian economists is seriously defective, not that praxeology is in its substance useless or necessarily wrong.

Jesus H. Christ on a bicycle, Pete! Please, please, please stop attributing views and beliefs to me that I never expressed in this discussion, while continuing to evade the point at issue. For the record:

1. I never said it is not worthwhile to pay attention to what you write or denied that we share many ideas in common.

2. I have read many of your articles, especially on Hayek, Mises, and the calculation debate. I admitted to not having read your more recent articles on methodology because I have not been working in that area and, frankly, did not realize that you had published many of them, although I have since read your invited piece in the QJE symposium.

3. I made no comments on your vision for the future of Austrian economics or on the research programs your students pursue.

4. I did not suggest that your students and colleagues at George Mason University were not successful or that their work was not interesting or worth reading.

Why on earth do you keep insisting on bringing your position at GMU, the quality and success of your students, your entire corpus of work, the state of the economics profession etc. into every response to me and others? I challenged a single statement (about Don Lavoie) you made and asked you twice to give me the supporting evidence and argumentation so that discussion could proceed in a scholarly fashion. You chose not to. Instead you write "Tell me how I am being pompous and pontificating without evidence. The evidence is easy to follow with regard to these students." You then go on to tout your students admittedly impressive accomplishments. But how is this germane to the question of what criteria and sources of knowledge you are applying in deciding who best "understands" Mises? If you are going to continue to argue based on an appeal to authority and never seriously engage the point I made, then I guess there is no point in continuing the conversation.


Thank you for your comments. I meant no slap at Rothbard, honestly. He is actually an intellectual hero of mine. But I don't think we live in the same world he did and so we have opportunities in the scientific discipline of economics that he never did.

My standards of scientific achievment are pretty straightforward:


1. appointment in a top 20, hopefully top 10 PhD program.
2. if not an appointment, then at least an appointment at a PhD granting institution and having your work on the reading list at a top 20 program.
3. appointment at a top 25 liberal arts college


1. articles placed in the AER, JPE, QJE, or at least Journ of Econ Perspectives or Journal of Economic Literature.
2. articles in top field journals, Journal of Law and Economics to HOPE
3. book published with major university presses


1. Social Science Citation Index
2. Striving to become a productive input into the production process of other economists and political economists that are in my list of (1-3) under publications.

I don't believe in unappreciated geniuses as a general rule and I also don't believe in unpublished 'scholars' --- as my colleague Dick Wagner often says "Thinking without writing is really just daydreaming."

Also, while I think that the role of the public intellectual is important and should be valued within the economics profession, I think that Austrian economists need to focus more energy on advancing our scientific profile since many in our ranks have focused more on the public intellectual role.

So given the standards that I just listed, part of my argument is of necessity how successful any stream of ideas was to helping others meet those standards. So it is not a counting heads theory of truth, but it is a theory of scientific progress that sees productivity as a proxy measure for "truth" of a stream of thought. I admit this have problems.

In response to Ludwig --- thank you again for the clarification with regard to my own work, and I appreciate that you have found some of the articles worth reading. On my admission of being a failed academic in my own eyes, that is a simple point.

A. I believe one should shoulder the full responsibility for any "failure" rather to blame it on others or other sources. I am responsible for my own fate.

B. I was given amazing opportunities in my career --- I taught at NYU for 8 years, I spent a year at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, was a fellow at Boston University, and I have been a visiting fellow twice at the LSE. I was very fortunate. But I didn't transform those great opportunities into permanent appointment at one of those locations. I failed to secure the brass ring of academics. Let alone use my work to build up a reputation so that I could earn an appointment at Princeton or something like that.

Whose fault? Mine. I didn't do the quality of work that would warrant such an appointment. With such an outstanding endowment of ideas from Mises and Hayek, I view this failing as very personally disappointing. I let down Mises and Hayek (and Kirzner).*

I am thrilled to be teaching at GMU, and it is the right home for me (though I miss NY/NJ area tremendously). And GMU is a great and exciting place to be teaching --- I have great colleagues, great students, and a great situation in terms of teaching and freedom of research. But I am also ambitious, and I failed in achieving those ambitions.

*this is why I am very concerned when I hear young austrians like David Heinrich make comments that don't recognize differences in the quality of argument (QJE vs. QJAE (substitute RAE)). The QJE is a much higher level of argumentative rigor than we produce in the RAE, even though I might agree with the ideas that are being developed in the QJAE or RAE more. I want us as a community to aspire to a level of argumentation that the readers of the AER, JPE and QJE would value even if they didn't agree with us. That is our challenge --- I have failed to live up to that challenge, but is my sincere hope that others will succeed among the next generation.


Don devoted his life to understanding and advancing Mises's argument for methodological dualism, subjectivism, intersubjectivism, and market process. I tried to list the philosophical lines that follow from Mises's own footnotes in Epistemological Problems and Theory and History without providing page citations only because that would require a full blown paper.

Don used this to create an educational philosphy and research program and I tried to provide evidence for that.

Anyway, you remain completely unpersuaded and also claim I am evading the issues. I have honestly within the constraints of this medium tried to answer your charges. I am sorry that I have done so inelegantly. I am influenced by McCloskey on at least 1 major point which is that all authors need to listen to readers when the reader says they are frustrated with their efforts. I have obviously failed to present my position in a way which is clear to you. Perhaps the two sentences above that start this post will do so.

As I said, I believe Lavoie picked up on the footnotes and references in Epistemological Problems, and Theory and History (as well A. Schutz) and followed them out from the 1930s to the 1980s to see what had happened with the development of these ideas in the philosphy literature. In so doing he was not engaged in deviationist turn. That was my first claiim. My second claim was that not only was Lavoie not a deviationist, but the path he engaged in turned out not to be a dead-end academically. There I provided evidence of the productivity of those who studied with done and who were influenced (great or small) by Lavoie's stress on the updated understanding of methodological dualism, subjectivity, intersubjectivity, and market process.

I believe that I am responding to your questions to me, I am not trying evade them. If these are not satisfactory answers to your questions, then I have to say that I am either "blind" by my own biases, or too stupid, to see what it is that you are asking for.


Prof. Klein,

I think most of those who disagree with you are aware of your views on what constitutes success. It just seems to us that you set an impossible standard, given the statist institutional paradigm, thus that it seems like banging your head against a wall.

It just seems to me that your views are at odds with Rothbard's criticism of the theory of econ. history as always improving, never stagnating or retrograding.

"So it is not a counting heads theory of truth, but it is a theory of scientific progress that sees productivity as a proxy measure for "truth" of a stream of thought. I admit this have problems."

I don't see the difference. Productivity, as you define it, is determined by essentially what most in the mainstream think of you. Most of them are all biased statists, selected either directly or indirectly by the State. Of course they're biased against Austrians. Of course they don't want to hear that they're just economic parasites, paid stiffs for the state.

So I don't see how you can use productivity as judged by the mainsyream as a proxy for progress in truth.

I confess to having not read much QJE for the reasons mentioned. However, I have read top finance journals (w/c I feel actually have some useful papers, despite the excesses of EMH). I've read some seminal papers, such as Sharpe's _Arithmetic of Active Management_ and Malkiel's _Reflections on the Efficient Market Hypothesis: 30 Years Later_ Excellent papers. However, I'd say that Hoppe, Huelsmann, and Block's _Against Fiduciary Media_ is just as excellent, if on a quite different topic. I am curious what you think needs to be done to some of the papers in the QJAE to bring them up to QJE "standards" of argumentative rigor? And also why the truth or falsehood of an paper's claims has little to do with it's quality? You say QJE papers are of higher quality, although you agree with QJAE papers more; that sounds like the Hermeneutical focus on "persuasiveness" rather than truth (who tells the better stories; in w/c case maybe we can say the QJE is more "entertaining" for flights of fancy).

For me, quality cannot be separated from truth.

And if you really think the rigor of arguments in RAE isn't up to par with QJE, it seems another course of action would be to focus on improving the quality of RAE up to that level. It seems unlikely to me, to say the least, that hardcore Austrian papers strongly and without exception promoting the free market will make it into top mainstream journals, no matter how well-written they are.

There isn't anything among the mainstream that compares in quality to Mises or Rothbard, yet they aren't well-respected.

For David Heinrich:

Is it possible for an economist to be brilliant but wrong? Or is being wrong (which I take for you is to be non-Austrian or non-libertarian) ipso facto evidence of lack of brilliance?


Sure, brilliant but wrong is possible. That is, the economist himself is brilliant. But wrong ideas I don't consider brilliant or worth study. We don't learn about epicircles in astronomy.

Most of the mainstream economists I consider brilliant -- Friedman, Stiglitz, Tullock, Coase -- did of course have some brilliantly correct insights. Keynes is one who may have been brilliant -- as demonstrated by his investment -- but contributed nothing of value to economics.

It is better to be ordinary and right than brilliant and wrong.

But I also think some of the top Austriabs today are just as brilliant as Friedman was, for example.

Forgive my typos, as my left hand is broken. I'm not used to having to check for them.

Of course it is possible to be brilliant and wrong. Consider for instance the historical debate between Einstein and Bohr over the interpretation of quantum mechanics. Since they contradicted each other they could not be both right. But clearly they were both very brilliant.

To D. Heinrich: As to your question what is wrong with certain instances of Austrian theorizing, I think economic theorizing has indeed become more rigorous, nuanced and sophisticated and that the general perception among mainstream folks is that (some) Austrians have not really followed up as regards the tools of modern theorizing. Economics is now more rigorous than, say, at the time Haberler and Machlup were writing and I think it makes a difference as to the conclusions you will arrive at. Some Austrians also have a more dogmatic attitude, have a tendency to leap to preconceived conclusions, and are less sensitive to the strength of a sophisticated analytical argument.


I think it is the Austrians who are more sophisticated...

But, as it stands, I don't see how you've actually provided any arguments, just said "they're of higher quality: in a different way. I don't regard invalid application of mathematics by failed mathematicians as "sophisticated".

But please provide specific examples of what you mean. All I see is unsubstantiated allegations, with no examples.


btw, all that sophistication didn't inform most of these "economists" that socialism would collapse (see Samuelson's predictions for the USSR overtaking the US). Nor did it inform them of the great depression, or provide them with am explanation of it.

But lets take one significant point of difference: anti-trust. Austrians are against it, by and large. Rothbard provided excellent arguments against anti-trust, arguing the State as the source of real monopoly. Where's the "sophisticated" argument against Rothbard's anti- Anti-Trust position. To me, anti-trust seems like just a bunch of childish whining on the part of economists that some company greatly outcompetes their competitors (e.g., MS). Plus, it gives them jobs in litigation. Hmm, interesting incentives there.


The quality of writing and reporting is higher in the Washington Post, than what exists in the Washington Times, though I am more likely to agree with the article in the Times more than the article in the Post. Does that make sense to you?

I think this general rule is true for professional journals as well. The quality of argument --- the very process of refereeing and selection --- is higher the higher the rank of the journal.

I don't think statism has anything to do with the current professioal situation of Austrians --- methodology yes, but not statism. It is inaccurate to describe the current academic world that way since the world has changed since Rothbard was trying to carve out his professional career.


P.S.: Ludwig --- you don't publish in the mainstream journals in order to advance your career (I once argued that, but I would disagree with myself now). I think as a scholar you want to maximize the exposure to your work and in order to do that you want to publish in outlets that have the highest circulation and the highest reputation for quality. The better the journal the more likely your paper will be read by higher quality academics. It is really that simple. But it is very hard to get in and it can be very frustrating.

To Herr Professor Dr. Horwitz,

Until you have bowed, fawned, & wore the skin off your knees by prostrating yourself in front of important European royalty and palecon dignitaries (in the manner of Hans Hoppe) you are to no longer consider yourself a true Austrian but a mainstream deviant.

And in answer to your question: If one is not a card-carrying Austrian then obviously one if apriori a moron (irrespective of the number of publications you may have published in evil statist journals like the QJE).


The card-carrying Austrian rich guy formerly known as Prince Ludwig of LudwigStein

As I once said to Hans Hoppe from the audience at an MPS meeting: "The world may look that way to you when you are on your knees licking the boots of the Crown Prince of some obscure European Principality, but is does not look that way to me"

Folk in the know will know.

I agree that tools (technique) alone are not sufficient to guarantee the sophistication of an argument or position. But in today´s world great ideas do no longer seem sufficient either. Therefore I really believe the magic formula is: "great ideas + tools". If Austrians could express their really great ideas using some of the sophisticated tools of today´s economics, they have a really great future!!!
Austrians remain too often stuck in their role of "moralists"; for instance, they have decided that something is wrong on moral (ethical) grounds and then any economic argument they can contrive is good enough to prove that position...

and what about Granger-causality? Yes, it's a sophisticated post-hoc ergo propter hoc, w/c only an unsophisticated person would be suckered into thinking demonstrates causality, although it does demonstrate temporal relation. Apparently, the "sophisticated" profession doesn't understand basic fallacies. Seems like just a bunch of mathematical games. Why don't they do everyone a favor and play sudoku?

To David H:

That is why they call it Granger-Causality rather than Causality.

Doh ....


I don't think Austrians think just b/c somethings immoral, any econ arg will do. I think they provide thorough econ. args against all interventions.

And as my above sardonic post shows, Austrians don't think these tools add anything valuable.


And then they'll just call it causality. X Granger-causes Y is clearly deceptive/confusing.

Go read Hoover's book. Or just ask the saintly Tyler Cowen to explain GC to you.

"And then they'll just call it causality. X Granger-causes Y is clearly deceptive/confusing"

Maybe to you, & Ron Paul, & the Prince of Zince, and similarly important academic economists .....

Granger causality is a technique for determining whether one time series is useful in forecasting another. Ordinarily, regressions reflect "mere" correlations, but Clive Granger, who won a Nobel Prize in Economics, argued that there is an interpretation of a set of tests as revealing something about causality.

A time series X is said to Granger-cause Y if it can be shown, usually through a series of F-tests on lagged values of X (and with lagged values of Y also known), that those X values provide statistically significant information about future values of Y.

The test works by first doing a regression of ΔY on lagged values of ΔY. Once the appropriate lag interval for Y is proved significant (t-stat or p-value), subsequent regressions for lagged levels of ΔX are performed and added to the regression provided that they 1) are significant in and of themselves and 2) add explanatory power to the model. This can be repeated for multiple ΔX's (with each ΔX being tested independently of other ΔX's, but in conjunction with the proven lag level of ΔY). More than 1 lag level of a variable can be included in the final regression model, provided it is statistically significant and provides explanatory power.

The researcher is often looking for a clear story, such as X granger-causes Y but not the other way around. In the real world, often, difficult results are found such as neither granger-causes the other, or that each granger-causes the other. Furthermore, Granger causality does not imply true causality. If both X and Y are driven by a common third process, but with a different lag, there would be Granger causality. Yet, manipulation of one process, would not change the other.

To: David Heinrich,
You say I did not produce any arguments. However, I think the charge of the proof is upon you since you are the one who makes a positive affirmation, namely that praxeology has the structure of a deductive system.
I challenge you to produce a few examples of formal-deductive arguments from Mises´ Human Action. I agree that applying economic laws involves deduction, for instance from "If A then B" and "A" follows "B". However, I would like you to convince me that arriving at the law-like statement "If A then B" is a matter of formal deduction.


No, not to me or RP. We're not the one's who started saying Granger causality, abusing the English language and logical thought processes. It's quite obvious what the intent of that is, otherwise, it would be called temporal relation.


I'm aware of how GC works, but your explanation is contradictory. You first state it "shows something about causality". No, it doesn't at all. The only thing it shows is temporal relation. Of course, logic tells us that causation can only go forward (not backward) in time, so if "GC" shows us directional temporal relationship, that means there *could* be causality. It suggests a possible train of logical (praxeological) investigation. It proves nothing about economics.

But to call it GC is simply a lie, and underhanded abuse of the language.

Also, GC (like regression) may fail to show relationships that are there.

And while forecasting can be informed by econ, that's not economics. Economics about immutable laws.


For me to show how economics can be purely derived deductively would be redundant, as that's done in Mises and Rothbard. For a good overview of that, at least from the action axiom to time-preference and other basic laws, see Rothbard's _In Defense of Extreme Apriorism_ and _Man, Economy, and State_. But, just as a brief starter (this is basically quoted from Rothbard's In Defense of... paper; parenthesis indicate my comments):

1. Axiom: man acts (to deny this is performative contradiction, as the denial is an action). Some of the immediate logical
implications that flow from this premise are: the means-ends relationship, the
time-structure of production, time-preference, the law of diminishing marginal
utility, the law of optimum returns, etc.

2. Postulate: Diversity of resources, human and natural. (I consider this an undeniable axiom as well, as any denial would illustrate a diversity of resources). From this follows
directly the division of labor, the market, etc.

3. Postulate: Less important, that leisure is a consumer good. These are actually the only postulates needed. Two other postulates simply introduce limiting subdivisions into the analysis.

4. Postulate: When we analyze the economics of indirect exchange, therefore, we make the simple and obvious limiting condition (Postulate 3) that indirect exchanges are being made.

5. Postulate: The fourth--and by far the least fundamental--postulate for a theory of the market is the one which Professors Hutchison and Machlup consider crucial--that firms always aim at maximization of their money profits. As will become clearer when I treat the Fundamental Axiom below, this assumption is by no means a necessary part of economic theory. From our Axiom is derived this absolute truth: that every firm aims always at maximizing its psychic profit. This may or may not involve maximizing its money profit.

From these axiom(s) and postulates, we can derive for example the laws of supply and demand. For this, see MES with P&M, p24-25 in text, 123-123 in pdf:

The important consideration is the relation between the unit to be acquired or given up and the quantity of supply (stock) already available to the actor. Thus, if no units of a good (whatever the good may be) are available, the first unit will satisfy the most urgent wants that such a good is capable of satisfying. If to this supply of one unit is added a second unit, the latter will fulfill the most urgent wants remaining, but these will be less urgent than the ones the first fulfilled. Therefore, the value of the second unit to the actor will be less than the value of the first unit...Thus, for all human actions, as the quantity of the supply (stock) of a good increases, the utility (value) of each additional unit decreases.

I now ask you to explain to me how Austrian analysis -- for example, the analysis of Cantillon effects -- is unsophisticated.

You are describing how certain phenomena in the real world hang together in an intelligible manner but I still haven´t seen formal deduction...
One clarification: I didn´t say praxeology isn´t sophisticated. What I meant is that economists like Haberler, Machlup, Hayek ... published in the meanstream journals of their time but that contemporary Austrians, if they want to do the same, clearly must update their style...


If what you are asking for is a symbolic logical proof, you won't get it. The language of economics is English (or French, German, etc) and it is a pointless exercise in intellectual masturbation to translate that to symbolic logic. Rothbard does provide a chain of logical deduction, starting with an indisputable axiom, and deducing necessary consequences of that.

I have provided an example of praxeological deduction. I think it is pretty clearly valid on its own. E.g., the laws of supply & demand necessarily follow from the axiom & postulates laid out. Certainly, I think Mises provided a damning criticism of the idea that econometrics can show us true economic theory.

Re style, Austrians clearly think there's little of value in econometrics for illuminating economic theory, so why should they concede precisely a point of contention by using such? All econometrics do is illuminate the past, as a historical tool, allowing us to illustrate (but not prove/disprove) economic theory. E.g., how fast did (past-tense) the stock market react to news. Any quantitative statements about the future are just speculation.

Btw, for ppl who think that "science is prediction", empiricists sure do have a horrible record compared to Austrians. E.g., Great Depression, see Fischer's forecasts & bankruptcy); severing of gold stabdard (predicted gold would greatly drop in price); socialism (predicted would overtake).

If you can frame it into a deductive form according to Aristotelian logic, I would already be very satisfied. In my opinion you haven´t done this.
I am not saying that what you say is not plausible but plausibility based on introspection is not yet the same thing as the force of a deductive argument. Mises for instance would not have agreed with what you write under the first axiom. You say that the categories of action you mention are "immediate logical implications" of action. In his better moments Mises said, for instance, that the categories of action cannot be proven or disproven, they constitute an ultimate given etc...
When I was talking about "style" I was not thinking primarily about econometrics. There are many areas in modern microeconomics, for instance, that Austrians haven´t profitable exploited yet.

There is also a very simply "reductio ad absurdum" argument of the thesis that praxeological reasonings have the same strength of logical and mathematical deductions. We know that in mathematics and logics participants do not disagree for a long time about whether an alleged proof is really a proof. Mathematicians for instance do not disagree about whether Andrew Wiles´ proof of Fermat´s last theorem is really a proof or only an alleged proof. They all agree that Fermat´s last theorem has been proven. If praxeology were something of this sort, all economists would be praxeologists. Since this is obviously not the case, praxeology cannot be like mathematics, that is, its alleged deductions cannot have the same logical strength.

To Brian Pitt:

I certainly embrace subjectivism and methodological individualism. In that sense, "interpretation" is a key element of my research program. But I get this approach from Menger, not Gadamer or Husserl. As David Gordon points out above, these philosophers were hardly the first to emphasize the role of intentionality and meaning in the explanation of social phenomena. I was asking specifically about the extent to which studying Husserl, Schutz, Gadamer, Taylor, Ricouer, and others mentioned here adds value to applied work in economics. If they don't, are the "interpretive turn" and the applied research program pursed by Pete and his students independent, parallel projects? Pete seems to imply that the former was an important precursor to the latter, but I'm not sure I understand the specific mechanism.

BTW, a couple of posts above have been addressed to "Prof. Klein," when I think they're intended for Prof. Boettke. I'm sure Pete B. doesn't want to be confused with me any more than I want to be confused with him. :-)

Here is why the Mises Institute published it.

If you think we were wrong--that the book should be $135 in two volumes and not available electronically, or that it should only be 300 pages and that it should not be published for another two years--please write me and explain why.

To answer Peter Klein´s query, the contribution to applied work is most probably nil. Nevertheless there is a recurring tendency for some economists to want to explore the philosophical, epistemological etc. status of their discipline. They will then look for inspiration in the main philosophical currents of the times. It would seem that praxeology as it has been actually practised has some affinity with phenomenology. This viewpoint seems to me more honest (less hypocrite) than the alternative viewpoint that praxeology is to be likened to formal-deductive sciences such as geometry, mathematics etc.

I agree with Jeffrey. The major university press' are obviously inferior in what they can offer in terms of price and e-availability. Stiff institutions. Having the book 300 pages, or priced 3x as high, would be absurd, and would have greatly limited its penetration. I think that students around the world, abd especially people in poor countries who could benefit the most from Huelsmann's book, are very grateful that the book was not published by over-priced major university press'. I'm also quite glad. Slap a major univ. logo on the book, and it costs 3 times as much for 1/3rd the length of the book.

My take: a) the method of praxeology is a priori, not hermeneutical; point for Mises against Lavoie; b) the method of thymology is hermeneutical, not a priori; point for Lavoie against Mises; c) thymological experience is a precondition of the usability and meaningfulness of praxeological categories; another point for Lavoie against Mises; d) but thymological experience forms no part of the content of praxeology; another point for Mises against Lavoie.

Details here:

Moral: each side of this dispute has an important piece of the truth.

I agree with Prof. Long here.

It is the definition and acceptance of "axiomatic" that is really the main incursion point where opponents of Praxeological Economics can get a foot-hold.
Hermeneutics allows us to create a ground upon which to formulate premises strong enough to go on to praxeology. But praxeology proper is not hermeneutic.

As to what Ludwig van den Hauwe said about the relative strength of praxeology to other deductive arts, I'd say that the main arguments that last a long time in economics are either "meta-arguments" or bad economics. If all economists embraced praxeology, there wouldn't be many areas that had long-standing disagreements, because the logic would assert itself.

That said, even then the concept of premises as pointed out above comes into play. Unlike mathematics or some areas of physics, the premises of economics are subject to challenge, as they derive from actual human conditions.
However, most of the "controversies" in economics are results of people ignoring significant political situations. In other words, they're not real economic disagreements, they're people ignoring the situation on the ground either blindly or in an attempt to trick other people into doing so, in order to defraud people about economics. Ceteris non paribus.
For example: You can't talk about economic statistics neutrally in a world that has zoning laws. It doesn't apply the same way. You can't statistically "write it off", it has structural far-reaching changes to the situation. In fact, only praxeological economics has made a serious attempt to look at these distortions without using "corrective" percentages and otherwise assuming a "free market". There's still a lot of work to be done in the praxeology of distorted markets though, in my opinion.

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